Vol 117 (2004): Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society
Ornamental, Garden & Landscape

Florida native ferns: Ptropical pteridophytes

Carol Alberts
University of Florida
Published December 1, 2004
  • understory plantings,
  • shade-tolerant plants


Plants are considered native to Florida if they were here at the time of European contact in the early sixteenth century (1516). Using plants native to Florida in our landscapes helps maintain the natural look of our state and can lead to more energy efficient landscaping. Florida has over 2,400 native species of plants, with some endemic to the state. They have survived through the years because they are adapted to our soils, temperature, and rainfall patterns. Each is associated with natural plant communities or ecosystems that occur throughout Florida. Although only about 25% of our native flora is in commercial production, interest in native landscaping continues to increase. Commercial and homeowner landscapers can benefit from learning more about native plants and how to use them in the landscape in formal beds, understory plantings or as specimen plants. Multi-media tools offer an easily accessible way to promote the use of native plants and their availability in the nursery trade. A PowerPoint presentation focusing on the use of ferns in understory plantings was developed to address these needs. The presentation begins with a key to fern identification features to assist viewers in distinguishing between different species. Featured native ferns, terrestrial and epiphytic, are discussed with relation to origin, cultural requirements, availability, and landscape uses.